Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Pan Color Matters

July 14, 2015

 

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When you reach into your cupboard to pull out a baking sheet, it is important to choose one that is appropriate to the food you are cooking. Did you know that the shade of the pan has an effect on the way the food cooks? This is especially critical when baking cookies.

Light pans reflect the heat and darker pans absorb it, often effecting the baking time.

The darker pans will make food cook faster, and will often yield a darker bottom on the food you are cooking. Cookies will brown more deeply, and sometimes even burn if they are not watched like a hawk. If you opt to use a dark pan, reduce cooking time by 25% and then watch carefully to make sure that things don’t start to brown too quickly. These pans are great for things like roasting vegetables, where the darker pan will help them caramelize.

Those shiny silver pans may be harder to keep that way, but they are optimal for baked goods. I use parchement paper most of the time, which helps keep them looking fresh for a longer period of time, and prevents food from sticking. Usually made of aluminium, they are light weight, easy to clean and relatively inexpensive. As they start to age, they will get a beautiful patina. I love my old, mottled and discolored pans for photography, or as drip pans, but they are no longer suitable for baking. As your pans begin to darken, or have a mottled appearence, it is time to put them into retirement as baking sheets.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Healthy Reset: Week Two

July 13, 2015

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This week has been pretty unremarkable. I am completely into the vibe of eating only whole foods, and don’t feel deprived or overly hungry at all.
I fully understand why they don’t want you to weigh yourself on this program. It distracts from the idea that this is a way of life and not a crash diet, and they don’t want you to obsess over a number on the scale. Of course I weighed myself anyways. I  was shocked at the almost five pound drop last week, (which is a huge amount for a relatively small person,) but on day nine, some of it seemed to be back. No big surprise, as daily fluctuations occur, but it can be a bit disconcerting.  Add this as just another reason to step away from the scale during Whole30.

The key to success has been preparation. I have been working from home lately, but this week I needed to head to the office. I roasted an assortment of vegetables, boiled some eggs and cleaned some salad greens so I could have healthy, compliant lunches, and a jumpstart on dinner when I get home. During the week, leftovers often added variety. In the past, I could broil a piece of fish and steam a little broccoli and call it night. If I wasn’t satisfied, I grazed. Now I focus on a delicious, healthy dinner, eaten mindfully at the table with my family, so I walk away satiated. It seems to be working. I sip a cup of mint tea after dinner, and it has become my post meal ritual to relax, and aid digestion before bed.

I am often making food for others that I am not eating. I can’t get the rest of the family to join my quest, so I am making pasta, bread and sweets to supplement my protein and plant heavy diet. I tend to entertain over the weekend, and run a small baking business on the side, so the temptation to eat broken cookies, taste icing or cake scraps is always there. I know this sets off a chain reaction, so “nope, not going there” is my mantra. It is easy to walk away from the crumbs, but not easy to stop once that door has been opened. Another lesson from Whole 30.

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The weekend is here. The sweets in the office and the pizza at home held no great appeal, but I wouldn’t mind a glass of wine about now. I am not a big drinker, but relaxing with a nice glass of wine at the end of a busy week is more of a spiritual indulgence than a dietectic one. It’s something I know I will want to add back into my diet at the end of the month, in moderation. Plus, a little wine does have its health benefits.

Freshly made pasta that I won't eat. One of the many things on that list!

Freshly made pasta that I won’t eat. One of the many things on that list!

Willpower! I just made s’mores, mini shortcakes (for strawberry shortcake), coconut icecream, and fresh pasta, none of which I will eat. Monday’s baking includes marbled cheesecake brownies, yum! Before you start to feel sorry for me, or tell me to just “eat the cookie,” let me tell you about the dinner I have planned tonight.

We are celebrating a friend’s birthday and I am making her favorite dishes. The guests will have a salad with roasted beets and heirloom carrots, chicken piccata on a bed of homemade fettuccini with butter and parmesan cheese. There will be roasted green beans, and grilled tomatoes. They will finish the meal with the above mentioned strawberry shortcakes with coconut icecream and fresh strawberries in Grand Marnier. ( The other stuff is for indigo jones eats customers.)

I will have the salad and vegetables, and my chicken will not be breaded. It will be simply prepared with fresh lemon and capers, rather than the buttery lemon- caper sauce the others will have. No pasta, and sparkling water instead of wine. For dessert, I will have fresh strawberries. That doesn’t really sound like a big sacrifice, does it? I certainly don’t think so. Once again, the event is at my home, and I am the one cooking, so it is easy to be compliant without inconveniencing anyone else, or making an unwanted fuss about my restrictions.

I have hit the half way point, and I can see eating this way indefinately, with a few splurges and a little wine along the way.

On to week three!

Top photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Separating Eggs

April 7, 2015

 

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Separating eggs is serious business. If you are making something like a souffle, meringue or another dish that requires beaten, fluffy egg whites, it is crucial that no yolk gets mixed in. If there is any moisture, egg yolks, or other impurities in the bowl, the egg whites will fail to become the big, white peaks you are looking for.
For this reason, we recommend using 3 bowls to separate eggs. One for the white, one for the yolks and one to separate the eggs over.

We separate the eggs and put the white in the small bowl and throw the yolks into the designated yolk bowl, before transferring the whites to the larger bowl. That way, if you get a little yolk into the whites while separating, you only lose one egg.

If you happen to get a little yolk into the whites, put it aside to use for things like egg white omelets, or other dishes that don’t require the egg whites to be beaten into stiff peaks. A little cream of tartar can also keep the egg whites stiff after beating.

Happy Baking!

GIF: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sifting

January 6, 2015

I have a confession to make. I don’t own a sifter.

While it’s entirely possible you don’t either, for someone who bakes as much as I do, it’s pretty surprising. It’s a relatively inexpensive item and sifting is often required for recipes. So what’s the deal?

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Sifting is defined as “put (a fine, loose, or powdery substance) through a sieve so as to remove lumps or large particles.” A sifter, for those of you who don’t have one either, is looks a bit like a large tin can with a handle on the outside, and has a mesh filter on the inside. There is some sort of mechanism to move the flour around, such as a crank, or a spring loaded device, serving to aerate the ingredients and propel them through the mesh filter.

Although I agree that the aerating and “de-lumping” is an important step in baking, I usually do it with a small wire whisk and a metal strainer. ( Truth be told, depending on what I am making, I don’t even bother with the strainer.)

If you are caught without a sifter when baking, simply place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and place the required ingredients into it, ( usually flour, and sometimes salt or a leavening agent, such as baking powder or soda) and whisk until it all passes through the sieve and into the bowl.

Nothing extra to store, or clean. That works for me!

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This Pretty Much Sums it Up!

December 17, 2014

Since the launch of indigo jones eats, I’ve learned a lot about taking my passion: cooking, and doing it in a large quantity, on demand. I am so excited that people have embraced my little endeavor, and orders are coming in!
I have chosen to make things that are multi-faceted and time consuming. Each item is made by hand, and has multiple components. Assembling the items and packages takes a lot of time. Because I am just starting out, I am making my own labels and packaging, and sometimes doing deliveries myself, in addition to baking.
While I LOVE every second of it, I have to admit that I am figuring it out as I go. Each new order is met with exhilaration and a little fear, as I calculate what it takes to fill it. So far, it’s all good. Orders are going out on time, and met with rave reviews. I even manage to get the kitchen cleaned up before starting the next batch! Even so, I can’t help but feel a little like Lucy in one of my favorite television moments of all time:

If anyone wants to be my Ethel, drop me a line!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sinking Fruit

March 11, 2014

Blueberry muffins

When making muffins and coffee cakes with berries, it’s preferred to have them scattered evenly throughout the pastry. How do you avoid the blueberries sinking to the bottom? Make sure they are dry, and toss them lightly in flour before mixing them into the dough. The flour will keep them afloat, until the muffin is baked and enjoyed.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Substituting Chocolates

December 17, 2013

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When baking, different recipes call for different types of chocolate. Recipes that call for unsweetened chocolate for example,require more sugar, than those calling for bittersweet chocolate. Substituting chocolates requires tweaking other ingredients to compensate for the change in consistency or sweetness. Below of a few basic substitutions for those days when you have the urge to bake and the wrong type of chocolate in the pantry.

1 ounce of semisweet chocolate=1/2 oz. of unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon of butter

6 oz. of semisweet chocolate chips = 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder +1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar + 3 tablespoons of butter 

Happy Baking!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Banana Bread

December 2, 2013

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We eat a lot of bananas in our house, but inevitably, there is always a few that get too ripe, despite the techniques we have employed to avoid it.

No worries, banana bread is so easy to make, that we are happy to have an excuse to whip some up!

Banana Bread

Mash up 3 or 4 over ripe bananas in a mixing bowl. Add 1/3 cup melted butter and mix. Stir in 1 egg,  3/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt over the mixture add 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan, slice and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Soften Butter

November 3, 2013

Curl of butter

When baking, the recipe often calls for softened butter. Icy cold, straight from the refrigerator butter is usually too hard to work with, and when the baking urge hits, waiting for the butter to come to room temperature is agony.

The obvious solution to softening the butter; putting it in the microwave, almost always leads to disaster. Some part of it always starts to melt, and the results never seem to be quite as intended.

Here are a few other methods that yield more consistent results:

Using a stand grater to grate the butter is an effective way to soften it, as the small shreds soften much more quickly than a whole stick. Don’t worry…it’s quicker to do than you think it is.

Another method that is effective, is to put the butter in a plastic bag, and use a rolling pin to manipulate it into a  more malleable state.

Alternatively, place the butter in a tightly sealed plastic bag, and submerge it in warm, not hot water for a few minutes, until it reaches the desired state. You can use the same bowl of water you are using to bring your eggs to room temperature, which we discussed her last week.

Or, if it is the first step in the recipe, do as I often do when time crunched. Put the hard stick of butter into the electric mixer and beat it into submission!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Bringing Eggs to Room Temperature

October 29, 2013

Many recipes call for eggs to be “room temperature” when they are being used for baking. The reason being that eggs disperse more readily and evenly through the batter when they are not too cold, and egg whites beat more quickly at room temperature.

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So what do you do if you are ready to bake, but the eggs are still sitting in the fridge?
To take the chill off of eggs, gently place them in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes, or until they are no longer cold to the touch. Do not use boiling water, or the eggs will start to cook.

Dry them off and commence baking!  You will notice a difference.

photo:Glasshouse Images

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